How to Build a Better Shower Niche
A tile and stone pro offers detailed instructions for designing and installing a beautiful, custom niche with any type of tile.
Synopsis: Remodeler Joshua Oduin walks through the process of building a shower niche that successfully blends with the surrounding tile and acts as an accent to bring the bathroom together. He explains the importance of location, outlines the differences in using a premade or custom niche box, and walks step by step through the process of installing the niche: first installing the box, then setting the wall tile and mitering the edges, then setting the tile in the niche starting at the bottom before installing the shelf and the upper tile. Detailed photographs and illustrations demonstrate the process.
Bonus: See additional tips for cutting mitered tiles here: Mitered Joints Make a Tiled Shower Niche Shine
Niches add a very functional element to any shower enclosure. They can also add beauty. Unfortunately, most lack attention to detail. Too often the placement is off, the wall tile meets the niche awkwardly, or the outside edges are rough and unfinished looking. This is a missed opportunity.
After a decade of building niches many different ways, I’ve developed a set of techniques that ensure the niche blends cleanly with the surrounding wall tile and acts as an accent to bring the bathroom together. The approach can be adapted to any tile style by varying the techniques for finishing the edges. Subway tile, for example, can usually be purchased with factory bullnose edging that aligns nicely with the exterior of the box. For porcelain and marble, on the other hand, I create my own edging elements, as shown here.
In any case, the front end of my technique— integrating the niche box into the surrounding wall tile—is always the same, and starts with a careful layout.
It’s important to think about location and design early in the process. The size of the niche should be driven by the needs of the occupants, and there should be no plumbing, ducting, electrical fixtures, or structural/ load-bearing members in the niche location. If possible, the niche should not be placed in an exterior wall, which could interfere with insulation.
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